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Posts Tagged ‘undocumented’

Immigration Developments: What This Means For The Dreamers?

June 15, 2012 2 comments

The last few days, I’ve been working on getting back on track with regular posts since spending a few days in Rhode Island for Netroots Nation. The last few weeks, I have been reflecting on a post I wasn’t sure I was qualified enough to write about and so I’d been holding off on it. Interestingly enough, today’s developments may have provided a great opportunity to expand on what I was thinking about writing.

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I write a bit about immigration, the DREAM Act and the use of

Department of Homeland Security, Executive Order

the term “illegal” in immigration debate. The issue of immigration reform is very important to me because of my own personal history of having family and friends attempting to survive and enduring a very broken immigration system. Friends and relatives who have lived in America their whole lives, maintain a life of living in fear and the possibility of deportation, all because they have no papers.

The last 3 1/2 years, President Obama created a worrisome environment for many, with over 1 million deportations in 2011. Once a positive relationship between the immigrants rights community and Barack Obama, has since been tarnished in recent years, according to some within the movement. Who could blame them?

As a progressive who cares deeply about immigration reform and a progressive who is deeply committed to the future of this nation and committed to seeing the President and others elected in November, I worry.

It’s no surprise that in terms of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, the President has been a huge disappointment to Latino’s, particularly the DREAMers who have been on this chaotic and unsteady ride for over 10 years.

But today, with a stroke of a pen…President Obama has finally begun to do the right thing in terms of comprehensive reform.

Speaking to reporters today (not just the hecklar) the President’s Executive Order lays out a plan which states the following:

1) Person must be no more than 30 years old, 2) Person must have arrived in the country before they turned 16, 3) Person must have lived in the United States for five years, 4) Person must have no criminal record and, 5) Person must have earned a high school diploma, be in school or have served in the military.

The President was clear. “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship, not a permanent fix.”

By reading the executive order, it details a lot of the same requirements laid out in the Dream Act legislation, which was written over ten years ago and most recently was voted down by the Senate during the 2010 lame duck session. Just recently, a so-called “version” had a short revival by Senator Marco Rubio, who presented something much more watered down and in essence creating a second-class citizenry.

Today’s announcement does little to suppress any notion that this will a big fight in this election. However, could it also be the necessary step to re-energize the Democratic base as well as Latino’s to come out in masses come November? With the re-election of President Obama, could we really be seeing the DREAM Act take fruition?

No idea.

Just by looking at my Twitter feed I could tell that this issue is going to polarize an already polarized constituency. You’ve got the diehard DREAMERs on the left, defending their rights as American’s without papers with a fringe still not confident in what the President had to say today. Then there is the other side. The racists, xenophobes on the right who will make this issue a wedge issue this election year and create havoc on an already scary situation for undocumented immigrants.

The important thing is that the President took the step we needed to get the conversation going.

Today’s emotions and celebrations should not be the end to this debate, but the beginning.

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Undocumented, Unafraid, and Unapologetic

March 14, 2012 1 comment

As many (or some) of you know, I write quite a bit on immigration and how it pertains to the political and national narrative in this country.  Recently, I published a piece on the media’s use of the term “illegal” and how it affects the national debate.  Overtime, I’ve also attempted to make the case for the DREAM Act and why it is so important, not only to the young undocumented people who will benefit, but for the nation as a whole.  In retrospect, it’s been a good run.  Stories have been shared, stats have been presented, all in an effort to give a compelling yet not too biased account of what I think about the issue.

However, none of it has prepared me for this week.  A week that can shift the dialogue within the immigration debate in 2012, especially during this election year.

This week, thousands of youth across the country will be coming out as “undocumented” during Coming Out Week of Action.  For months, activists have been preparing for this major campaign, providing an atmosphere and a safe platform for youth all across the country.  It’s an opportunity to “come out” as undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic.

Recently, I had the incredible honor of meeting a few of these individuals in Washington, DC and while the campaign seems scary and risky, it’s necessary.  For over ten years now, immigrant activists have been heavily involved in the debate, attempting to fully engage the public and Congress on finding humane solutions to a broken immigration system.  While there have been some instances where it looked like we’d see some success, something incredibly disappointing occurs (like Congressional gridlock) and the road to some kind of reform collapses.

Undocumented immigrants coming out this week know that time is running out for them and millions of others.  Congress and the President of the United States have not and may not prioritize the issue again this year, moving along with a very little sense of urgency.  With no solution at the federal level, states are taking every effort to victimize undocumented immigrants, who are enduring a maddening game of tug of war, gone utterly wrong.  Just when you think the right thing is going to be done and reform looks promising, the other side yanks hope away, leaving activists with mud on their faces.

The harshest opponents to immigration reform are becoming much more critical these

Picture by Emma Hernandez Courtesy of Walk Against Fear Facebook Page

days and are taking those who were once sympathetic, with them.  All across the country, state houses have seen an increasing number of anti-immigration legislation introduced and in some places, have gone so far as to signing them into law.  States like Arizona, Mississippi and Alabama have shown that no immigrant is welcomed…but more importantly, persons of color are seen as outsiders in their own communities.

Alabama’s infamous and the nation’s strictest anti-immigrant law, passed last summer in the state legislature.  The Alabama law not only gave law enforcement the right to “verify a person’s immigration status during routine traffic stops and/or arrests, if “a reasonable suspicion” exists that the person is in the country illegally” but it has also created a temperament of fear all across the state and throughout the deep South.  

On Sunday, a group of young immigrant activists, many of whom are undocumented, set forth on a 200+ walk from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.  The Walk Against Fear, which brings awareness to civil rights violations immigrants suffer today due to anti-immigrant laws, is a march that is attempting to also capture the same resilience Civil Rights leaders had when they too made the journey. James Meredith, a Civil Rights activist and the first African American admitted into the University of Mississippi during segregation, was part of that march 50 years ago.  In the next few weeks, these activists will be confronted with the same objections Mr. Meredith faced during his time and risking their lives to end racism.  Gaining civil rights for all is not easy, the Civil Rights movement proved that.  Activists like Ingrid Cruz and Patricio Gonzalez, understand this as they walk towards Jackson today.  They too can no longer wait.

People around the country argue that perhaps when we discuss the issue of immigration reform, we should not focus too much on the human side of things and instead debate the issue objectively.  (I’ve never understood this concept, but whatever.)

Al Rojo Vivo con Maria Celeste reportaje - 389 Miles "Living the Border"

However, if we want to look at this thing “objectively” then it is necessary to take an hour of your time today and watch the film, 389 Miles: Living the Border by my friend LuisCarlos Davis. In this brilliant film, LuisCarlos depicts life along the Arizona/Sonora border, exposing the true stories of those living on both sides of the border, learning about the actors who risk their lives every day, facing human predators and dangerous terrain, to only succumb to defenders of a broken system.

You cannot help but carefully listen to both sides of the story and not be sympathetic.  As an incredibly passionate supporter of the plight of the immigrant community,  I was once again taken aback by the resiliency many have when crossing into the unknown.  All the while I could not help but also feel utter outrage towards our society and our unwillingness to look beyond color and focus on the true nature of what brings people here.  LuisCarlos film captures the angst on both sides, showing that even after years of debating this issue, people still do not have the answers.

This week provides us all with an opportunity to learn and fully understand why immigrants come here and why they fight to stay.  Those individuals coming out of the shadows all across the country, activists Ingrid Cruz and Patricio Gonzales marching on to Jackson to fight racism, and LuisCarlos who took the risk of making and sharing his film to the world, are people who can no longer wait for government to find the solution.

Let us remember that as this young generation of activists move forward to share their own personal stories, they carry with them the stories of 12 million human beings still too scared to share theirs.

The Rubio Dispatch – 2011 Year In Review and Beyond

January 1, 2012 1 comment

As 2011 ends and we head into 2012, I can’t help but stop and wonder about what challenges and opportunities lay ahead in the coming year. Not just for the nation itself, but for the world.

As a nation, we’re facing extraordinary social and economic issues that have plagued this country for years and 2011 showed us that perhaps those challenges will spill over into the coming year. I’m certain that things may get worse before they get better, but it is very telling that 2011 has shown us that throughout the world, millions of people, under the direst of circumstances, have shown a kind of resilience that I didn’t think we had in us as a people.

I saw this almost immediately in early 2011 with the rise of the Arab Spring. Many unfamiliar with the region learned of places like Tunisia, which was the first of many to relinquish their right from generational-long tyranny. As things moved along into Egypt and Libya, it was apparent that things were not going to slow down. In the United States, we were met with incredible protests in places like Wisconsin and Ohio. Labor was facing extinction and suddenly, the working class was in full force, protesting the harsh legislation being pushed by anti-union state officials. By the summer, the rest of the world was seeing massive protests, with the rise of Occupy Wall Street here in the United States and anti-austerity protests in Greece and other cities across Europe. You would have to have been living under a rock to not see the impact these revolutions and massive protests were having across the world. Regardless of what your opinion is on the Middle East uprising or Occupy Wall Street for that matter, something is happening…something I never thought would.

A year ago, I was disillusioned. Personally and professionally, I was beginning a tumultuous journey in my own life all the while feeling an incredible disappointment in society in general, knowing that too many had grown complacent with the status quo and felt no reason to assemble or stand up for what was right. So I was surprised at how 2011 began and in a way I did not expect at all. Tunisia and Wisconsin, two completely different worlds, were both faced with a battle to bring “people” and “ideas” to the forefront. We were no longer going to sit back and watch the top take what was rightfully ours. The general population was ready for a fight. As my year became increasingly challenging, I was also beginning to feel inspired. The tides were shifting.

As we move forward into 2012, questions remain. Will the economy get better? How will the middle and working class fit into the equation? We’ve learned overtime that austerity does not work, particularly in an era in which the gap between rich and poor are so great. What is the alternative? What will become of human rights and immigration reform? Will we ever get a chance to debate the DREAM Act?

This is the question we will be asking in 2012 as the United States and other countries around the world hold elections. Every other election year, we say that it is a “defining moment.” We believe each and every time that this election is the one that will make or break our chances of overcoming the challenges that lay ahead. Will the 2012 election here in American be the defining moment in our own lives or will we treat it the way we have done every other election in the history of this country?

The coming election is an important one, plain and simple. There is just too much at stake. This last year, we have seen attempts to strip away the rights of so many in our communities.

UNION BUSTING

Unions have faced incredible challenges in the Midwest and in other parts of the country in the last year. Entities that have only helped to enrich our working and middle classes overtime, helping to salvage deteriorating working conditions and advocating for balanced work hours and pay, are now confronted with the possibility of having their right for collective bargaining stripped, adding an incredible burden on the backs of hard working individuals all across the country. Fortunately, November 8 put an end to the threat in Ohio, where Governor Kasichs union busting bill was overwhelmingly defeated by the citizens of Ohio. Furthermore, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is facing an inevitable recall in 2012 after his own push against the union’s in his own state, took a turn for the worst against him and his supporters. American’s in these two states have in fact, taken the lead to defend the working-class across the nation.

OPERATION EAGLE EYE

Voter suppression is clearly a hot topic today, but it is going to be a continuing battle in 2012. As we move forward with supporting our candidates, Republican-led legislatures in states across the country are pursuing legislation targeting and could deter people of color and the elderly from voting in masses. A right that millions would die for in other parts of the world is now being threatened here at home. An Op-ed piece by Heather Digby Parton from Al-Jazeera gives a very clear outline of the historical significance voter suppression has made in this country at the hands of Republican operatives. Various reports throughout 2011 have illustrated an intensifying debate and political maneuvering that could undermine any real and true democracy in the coming elections in 2012. What are we going to do to stop this suppression and keep a basic American right, in tact?

AMERICAN JOBS ARE NOT IN MY UTERUS

Early 2011 showed us that the Conservatives, a group committed to “small government,” pursued a woman’s uterus with a vengeance (and not in a sexy way). Early on in 2011, the Republican-led Congress, who campaigned on “where are the jobs?” in 2010, focused on a woman’s right to choose in its first few bills introduced in Congress. This same issue spilled over to the states nation-wide, particularly in states like Mississippi, where an amendment was introduced that read, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization.” Personhood amendments could be interpreted to make several forms of birth control illegal, challenging not only Roe v. Wade but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which placed contraception under the protection of a constitutional right to privacy. Women and men of all ages came out in droves, challenging lawmakers and defeating the measure on November 8. A huge win for pro-choice advocates at the grassroots level, who not only defied expectations, but showed that once again, a woman’s right to choose will not be taken. The fight continues as the right continues to pursue and challenge individual rights as they attempt to covet a long historical ideology of “small government.”

WE’RE OUT. WE’RE PROUD. GET USED TO IT.

The LGBT community, which has endured a very long civil right’s history, has encountered many challenges in 2011, yet experienced very successful benchmarks in the last 18 months. With the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and states like New York legalizing gay marriage, gay activists continue to face strong opposition from groups on the right and evangelical Christians committed to stripping away these individual rights. In some cases, there have been attempts from these groups, here at home, to support “kill the gays” legislation in other parts of the world, a demonstration that this isn’t the end for anti-gay legislation and that perhaps the issue will only see greater backlash from the right. How do we continue to keep American’s engaged in this issue of gay rights and maintain momentum against those interested in destroying the lives of millions of American’s who only want the best for themselves and their families, regardless of sexual orientation?

THE I-WORD

Finally, there are our undocumented brethren across this country, who are currently facing the gravest of threats to their own liberty. At the end of 2010, Congress had an opportunity to debate the DREAM Act, an undeniably bi-partisan and forward-thinking piece of legislation, but the debate never made it to the floor of the United States Senate and the bill was dead on arrival. Instead, Republican’s (once supporters of the bill), with the help of Blue Dog Democrats, filibustered any attempt to bring it to the floor and the DREAM Act died. While the bill itself died last December, the dream for 12 million undocumented individuals in this country have not. Since then, young and undocumented individuals all across the country have been coming out and publicly disclosing their immigration status, regardless of the extreme consequences they face as the Obama administration announced in 2011 the nearly 400,000 deportations Immigration and Customs Enforcement made. No longer will young undocumented immigrants remain silent. There is too much at risk to continue to live in the shadows of a broken immigration system. In 2011, we were introduced to Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize winner, who came out as an undocumented immigrant and has led a nationwide conversation to Define American. A pursuit to change the American immigration debate and declare that we are human, not illegal.

2011 was not the best year, but it wasn’t the worst either. The world survived undeniable suffering, but there were hints of a pursuit to survive throughout the world, despite the ultimate chaos and turmoil that exists. 2012 is a mythical year, who many see as an end to all that we have come to know. However, I believe that it is the start of a new era which will provide us with an opportunity to engage our communities and demonstrate a greater good for all. At least that’s my hope. We shall see…